Trip and Fall Complaint Dismissed

In a recent unreported decision, the Appellate Division upheld the dismissal of a trip and fall complaint arising from an accident on a residential sidewalk. The plaintiff claimed that the homeowner had planted a tree on his property which caused the sidewalk to become raised and buckled, on which the plaintiff tripped and fell. The homeowner admitted the condition of the sidewalk but claimed that he had only planted trees in his backyard.  The homeowner did repair the sidewalk, but only after the town issued him a summons for failure to maintain the sidewalk.

The motion judge found that there was no evidence that the homeowner had planted the tree which caused the sidewalk to buckle. The plaintiff claimed that the homeowner’s animosity toward her and his subsequent removal of the tree at issue was enough to allow the case to go to trial.  The court found that the existence of the local ordinance requiring the homeowner to maintain the sidewalk did not create any liability of the homeowner to the plaintiff for her injuries.

The Appellate Division upheld the decision of the motion judge dismissing the complaint.

Normally there is no duty of a homeowner to sidewalk pedestrians for the condition of the sidewalk for injuries sustained as a result of a failure to maintain that sidewalk.

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